IRI Super League: Petro, Mahan survive close shave in season openers
2012-13 Iran Super League Regular Season Standings
· Petrochimi Bandar Imam 1-0
· Sanaye Petro Mahshahr 1-0
· Foolad Mahan 1-0
· Hamyari Zanjan 0-1
· Al Badr Kong 0-1
· Shahrdari Gorgan 0-1
· Azad University 0-0
· Esteghlal Qeshm 0-0
· Mahram 0-0
· Naft Sepahan 0-0
TEHRAN, Iran (Iran Super League): Last year’s runners-up Petrochimi Imam Bandar and strong contenders Foolad Mahan began their 2012-13 Iran Super League campaign on a winning note on Thursday alright, but not before sweating it out against unfancied opponents even as Sanaye Petro too huffed and puffed their way to victory.
Mahan won 57-54 against Hamyari Zanjan and Petro overcame Shahrdari Gorgan 80-68 with a final five-minute outburst, while Sanaye worked their way to a 73-69 win over Al Badr Kong, the winners of the First Division last year. Incidentally, all the winning teams were playing at home.
Zanjan were ahead 45-38 two minutes into the fourth quarter against Mahan, when a disqualifying foul called on their coach Farzad Koohian dealt a severe blow to their hopes.
Mahan did well to capitalize on their rivals’ confusion and won the game.
Former Iran international Javad Davari’s 19 points led Mahan’s win.
Aren Davoudi, the star in Iran’s triumph in the 4th FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo (Japan) earlier this year, paced Zanjan with 4 points, 6 assists and 5 steals.
Gorgan a team that finished rather low last year seemed to have the measure of the fancied Petro, when they led 65-60 with about five minutes left in the game.
Petro, probably reserving their best for the end, unleashed a fury of offense in the final five minutes and surged ahead to seal victory.
Petro’s sister team Sanaye too went through a similar ordeal.
Sanaye were in the lead for exactly four minutes – two at the start and two at the end of the game – but finished the game ahead.
Al Badr led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter and 36-28 at the end of the first quarter and were ahead 49-47 at the end of the third period before succumbing to Sanaye’s sustained pressure.
Jonas Lalezadeh led Sanaye’s challenge with 29 points and Mohammad Shahsavand added 23 points with Farid Haghayeghi contributing 15 points, incidentally none of them locals of Mahshahr or even Khuzestan province.
Vahid Islami paced Al Badr with 15 points.
Al Badr coach Mohammad Reza Eslami, while ruing the lost chances was also proud of his team.
“We were good the whole time except the final two minutes. I think it had to do with our experience of the lack of it. But I am still proud of my young team and what they did,” Eslami said.
Two more games of the first round are slated for Monday at Tehran with four-time defending champions Mahram taking on newcomers Esteghlal Qeshm and last year’s semifinalists Azad University lining up against another debutant team Naft Sepahan.
Reporting inputs from Fereshteh Seyfi Naji in Tehran